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ING Bank Is Bringing Bitcoin ‘Bulletproofs’ to Private Blockchains

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ING’s blockchain team is testing a privacy technology called “bulletproofs,” the latest in a series of seemingly unlikely cypherpunk experiments at the Netherlands-based global bank.

Developed and refined by hardcore cryptographers at Stanford University, University College London and startup Blockstream, bulletproofs are designed to hide the amounts being transferred in bitcoin transactions, which are normally visible to anyone. But banks have privacy concerns about blockchains too, since they don’t want to expose competitive or sensitive client data to rivals.

One early solution was zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), a way of proving possession of a secret without revealing the secret itself. Over the past year or so, ING has explored ZKP variants such as range proofs(where a hidden number is proven to be within a certain range) and zero-knowledge set membership(where alphanumeric data can be validated within a specified set).

But ZKPs eat up a lot of computation and so potentially slow down a blockchain. Now, ING sees bulletproofs as a much more efficient, therefore applicable, version of these proofs.

The bank found bulletproofs turn out to be “roughly ten times faster than other range proofs, for a single range proof,” said Mariana Gomez de la Villa, global head of ING’s blockchain program.

And when aggregated together these proving schemes gain efficiency. Gomez de la Villa gave the example of a cryptocurrency exchange using range proofs to show it has enough funds to pay all its clients if they want to withdraw their money at the same time.

In this case, “bulletproofs would allow a solution that is 300 times more efficient than other alternative range proofs,” she said.

While a lot of this stuff is academic, ING is now looking to where it can apply the tech. Potential uses touch on the need to obey the Europe Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); for instance, ZK set membership can prove an individual belongs to a given EU member state without disclosing any other information about their identity.

Meanwhile, academics and cryptocurrency scientists seem encouraged, if a little bemused. Blockstream mathematician Andrew Poelstra told CoinDesk via email:

“When we developed bulletproofs in 2017, we did not expect such an uptake. We’re very excited and proud whenever we see the technology being applied to real world problems, if a little surprised its found a use-case in traditional banking!”

Trade and trolls

ING is also looking at applying ZKPs to the testing out of trade finance blockchains, an innovation which in turn looks ahead to a world of blockchain interoperability, said Gomez de la Villa.

“We are setting up a whole [ZKP] shop to help developers find these use cases and are in contact with some of our customers to ensure they have a good understanding of how they can leverage these open source projects that we have,” she said.

To illustrate how the bank’s blockchain projects might apply ZKPs, Gomez de la Villa said imagine tracking a commodity from its origin and keeping the certificate of origin throughout the supply chain but without disclosing the supplier, price or the quality of the commodity.

Looking ahead, this could involve that commodity touching several distributed ledger networks (interoperability is something ING is thinking about now, given the bank has close ties with R3, ethereum-based oil and gas consortium Komgo, and recently IBM’s MineHub on Hyperledger Fabric).

“We need to ensure that the specific properties of the commodity worth passing along the chain in terms of semantic (meaning and interpretation of the fields) and the syntactic (format and fields) remain intact,” said Gomez de la Villa, “and at the same time being able to hide the ones that do not need to be passed on along the value chain but still are useful to record for other purposes.”

Proving the bank has reached the highest levels in this field, ING takes part in the annual ZKProof Workshop alongside the team behind cryptocurrency zcash, Blockstream and QEDIT. The bank also said it compares notes with the likes of JPMorgan, another enterprise consumer of zero-knowledge cryptography, to help make the tech a reality for clients.

Gomez de la Villa said:

“Everybody helps each other, everybody bounces stuff with each other and the important thing is not what you have learned but it’s more like how do you apply those learnings.”

But not everybody likes the idea of a bank getting involved with technology seen as the reserve of privacy-driven libertarians for use on public blockchains. Gomez de la Villa said her social media has been trolled by certain people claiming the bank “just copy and pasted” the technology.

“There are people that are quite anarchist about it and they are obviously 100% pro-bitcoin and they believe that indeed they are doing all this to circumvent financial institutions,” she said.

However, Gomez de la Villa is unfazed by her trolls, concluding:

“I like it. Cause that means that it matters.”

 

source.nulltx.

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Bakkt Futures to Launch in the Current Quarter

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Managing director and quant strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors Sam Doctor suggested in a Twitter post published on July 19 that Bakkt’s Bitcoin (BTC) futures contracts will launch this quarter.

According to the post, which includes a summary of Fundstrat’s takeaways from the Bakkt Digital Asset Summit held on July 18, the firm’s futures will launch in the current quarter. The launch is set to follow tests announced last month, which are scheduled to start next week. The firm believes that the launch will be a catalyst to accelerate entry of traditional institutional investors. The post notes:

“THERE APPEARS TO BE A CRITICAL MASS OF ADOPTERS READY TO COME ON BOARD ON DAY 1 OF THE BAKKT LAUNCH, WITH THE SALES TEAM GAINING TRACTION AMONG BROKERS, MARKET MAKERS, PROP TRADING DESKS AND LIQUIDITY PROVIDERS.”

During the aforementioned event, Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner Dawn Stump apparently expressed that no current cryptocurrency could threaten financial stability and that the regulator sees a growing demand for Bitcoin futures from the public. Also during the summit, chief information officer at crypto investment firm Blocktower Ari Paul was reportedly confident that once a killer app or user interface makes cryptocurrency on-ramps safe, reliable and as easy to use as Paypal, retail adoption will be enormous.

According to the Fundstrat notes, Paul also said that institutions should not dismiss crypto assets, considering their low correlation with traditional assets and with compound annual growth rates of 200%-300%. He also said that inflation and confiscation resistance of cryptocurrencies are a key value proposition.

Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead, on the other hand, said that most tokens will fail and a handful of base protocols will survive, but with thousands of decentralized applications built on top of them. 

As Cointelegraph reported in May, the Intercontinental Exchange is reportedly taking steps to ensure approval from the United States CFTC for Bakkt.

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Bitcoin Price Slips 10% in 24 Hrs as Fed Raises Facebook Libra Concerns

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Bitcoin Price Slips 10% in 24 Hrs as Fed Raises Facebook Libra Concerns

Bitcoin price (BTC) shed more than 10% on July 11 as markets appeared to react to criticism of Facebook’s Libra from a senior United States lawmaker.

Market visualization

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Data from Coin360 sees the majority of cryptocurrencies firmly in the red Thursday, hours after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Facebook’s offering should not continue development.

Libra, which aims to act firstly as a cross-border payment method, allegedly buoyed Bitcoin throughout recent weeks, with commentators arguing its public profile was driving publicity and uptake of Bitcoin itself. 

Powell’s demands, which follow similar words from representatives of the Senate House of Financial Services Committee, leant weight to that theory.

“Libra raises serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, financial stability,” he said during a speech before a congressional committee. “These are concerns that should be thoroughly and publicly addressed.”

“THESE ARE CONCERNS THAT SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY AND PUBLICLY ADDRESSED.”

At press time, BTC/USD traded down 10.4% at $11,530, having risen as high as $13,160 in recent days. 

Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

The drop places the pair still within its recent corridor between around $9,700 and $13,800, with volatility still in evidence across crypto markets. 

Altcoins, meanwhile, delivered noticeably worse performance as Bitcoin price fell, with several assets in the top twenty by market cap shedding 15% or more.

Ether (ETH), the largest altcoin, lost a similar amount to Bitcoin, hitting $272 and firmly losing support at $300 once again.

Ether 7-day price chart

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Among the worst performers were Bitcoin SV (BSV), which lost 17.2%, and EOS (EOS), which was down 20.2%.KEEP TRACK OF TOP CRYPTO MARKETS IN REAL TIME HERE

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Bitcoin Approaches $11,000 With All Top 20 in Green

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Saturday, July 20 — crypto markets have seen another upward move, with all top 20 coins by market cap seeing major gains, while Bitcoin (BTC) has approached $11,000 mark again.

Market visualization from Coin360

After dipping below the $11,000 threshold on July 14, Bitcoin has approached the price point today, with its intraday high of $10,944, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The biggest cryptocurrency added 3.7% to its price to trade at $10,922 at press time. As Bitcoin has seen significant volatility this week, with its price having dipped below $9,500, the cryptocurrency is down around 3% over the past 7 days at press time.

Bitcoin 24-hour price chart. Source: Coin360

Ether (ETH), the second cryptocurrency by market cap, is up over 5% and trading at $232 at press time. The top altcoin is down 13.4% over the past 7 days.

Ether 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Ripple (XRP), the third top cryptocurrency by market cap, added 6.4% to trade at $0.339, also seeing a notable growth over the past 7 days, adding up to about 2.6%.

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: Coin360

Bitcoin SV (BSV), the ninth top cryptocurrency by market cap, has added over 25% to its value today, seeing the biggest growth among the top 20 coins by market cap.

As of press time, total market capitalization amounts to $298 billion after that number dropped below $250 billion earlier this week. Daily trade volume amounts to around $63 billion.

The new wave of green on crypto markets follows a recent bullish prediction by managing director and quant strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors Sam Doctor, who suggested that much-anticipated Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures contracts will launch in Q3 2019.

Additionally, India’s Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said yesterday that there is no legislation in India that expressly bans citizens from using cryptocurrencies.

by https://cointelegraph.com

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